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It’s been almost four months since the integration of Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest, and it’s been fraught with technological challenges and customer frustration along the way. Even though the programs technically combined on August 18, in many ways they’ve continued to operate separately. Bookings at many legacy SPG properties still were made through the legacy Starwood (purple) website, and a handful of features remained restricted to the pre-August 18 classifications.

St. Regis Bora Bora reservations were still made with SPG, but no longer!

But it’s a new day with Marriott and SPG. Many legacy SPG properties across the various brands can now be found on the Marriott website. Not only that, but Points Advance, the feature that allows you to book award stays without the full number of points available in your account is now live at some legacy SPG brands and properties that did not have this functionality previously. Namely, points advance is alive and well for St. Regis destinations such as the St. Regis Maldives and St. Regis Bora Bora, both TPG favorites.

Points advance is a great option that lets you hold an award reservation even if you don’t have enough points in your account so you can lock in highly sought after award reservations while you wait for the points from stays or credit cards such as the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card to post. For those looking to travel during peak holidays and school breaks this is a pretty key feature! Even if you do have the requisite number of points in your account, it might still make sense to use points advance in case other valuable redemption opportunities pop up.

When booking a points advance reservation, you’ll receive a confirmation number for your stay. At least seven days before arrival, you’ll need to log into your account and redeem points for your stay. If you forget to do so, but have enough points in your account, Marriott will automatically redeem them to complete your reservation.

If you are having trouble finding availability at your wish list properties, use the availability calendar — properties like the St. Regis Bora Bora have more spotty availability than others, but there is some available.

However, we do want to mention that along with this new functionality, we are seeing new fees. This is most notable at the St. Regis Maldives, where reservations now include a “local fee” that can be a few thousand dollars on a multi-night stay for two or more people. We are digging into this fee as well as the new expanded functionality and will share when we learn more, though we’re hoping it’s a glitch, given that it’s also being added to standard (paid) stays as well. Also note that the move to the Marriott platform is supposed to make it harder for properties to play availability games with standard award rooms. 

(Photo courtesy of the St. Regis Maldives.)
(Photo courtesy of the St. Regis Maldives.)

Bottom Line

It’s nice to see another piece of the Marriott merger puzzle falling into place. With Category 8, peak and off-peak pricing set to kick in soon (early 2019), now is the best time to grab some big-name award reservations at the current maximum award rate of 60,000 Marriott Rewards points per night for a standard room (and don’t forget the fifth night free).

We’ll be digging further into these enhancements, but feel free to share your early experiences in the comments below.

Featured image of St. Regis Bora Bora by Zach Honig / TPG

American Express® Gold Card

With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
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Regular APR
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Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
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Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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